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How to Make EPIC SMOKE GRENADES pictures!

You probably saw in my past videos that I sometimes use smoke grenades in my photography.

I made a couple of shots with different colors in one of my latest fitness shoots... I posted the behind-the-scenes last week if you missed that one, check it out.

BTS – Fitness photoshoot with Smoke Grenades Feat. Ophélie Ferrand

It took me some time to test these smoke grenades, but I think that I have gathered enough knowledge now and it is time for me to share it with you! So if you wish to use smoke grenades on your next shoot, whatever it is, please consider the following 5 tips. Some are direct answers to questions I have received over the past weeks!

1/ Safety first

These things get hot, they stink, and when you fire them sparks randomly fly out! So be careful, pull the wire and keep the grenade away from your face, use gloves or if you don't have gloves hold it from one end or put the grenade on the floor.

2/ Plan ahead or rehearse

You have only 30 to 90 seconds of smoke. Depending on the thickness you desire and coverage you even have less than that, so there is little to no room for improvisation. These little things in Europe cost from 5 to roughly 12 euros, depending on where you buy them and the type it can be more. So playing with these ain't cheap! You usually need for a few good shots 3 to 6 grenades and I do sometimes use up to 9 depending on the result I want to have.

3/ Use them outdoors or in open spaces

In a forest, in an abandoned place, on a secluded island (if you have one)... If you plan on doing this in an urban setting, you have to get the proper authorization. In France, you must ask the local authorities for permission to use them in the city... Don't do this illegally if you don't want to get in trouble. Even if it's colored smoke, people around might think there is something wrong going on and will call the police... and trust me, you don't want that!

Also, be sure to check the weather, you have to have little to no wind on your day of the shoot to make your shots.

Dancer: Liza Riabinina Captured in Antibes ( France) Canon 5d mark III - 70-200mm F2.8L II 1/400s at f5.6 ISO200 - 70mm

4/ Camera settings

Shallow depth of field or not? Shutter speed?

This is up to you! I usually want details in the smoke so I use an F-stop above 5.6 and a shutter speed that isn't too slow. That suits my style in general, you have to test this for yourself to decide exactly what you like.

Athlete: Ophélie Ferrand Captured in Toulouse ( France) Canon 5d mark III - 24 - 70mm F2.8L II 1/200s at f7.1 ISO100 - 44mm

5/ Focus before firing

If possible, lock your focus before you let the smoke get in your shot. Because once the smoke is all around your model, your camera is going to struggle to find focus on your subject.

For the picture down below I had to work handheld, so I used the AI SERVO mode of my camera to keep focus while she was moving.